A #hashtag with a meaning

A #hashtag with meaning

By: Tiffany Bowers, 2017 KCCI Community Catalyst

Twelve diverse individuals were selected to erect a 30-foot art structure on the South Side of Tallahassee, and thus create a new urban park experience. This ambitious, 2017 Knight Creative Communities Institute #iHeartTally project was the latest feat toward catalyzing and place making in the Capital City. As a catalyst and member of the project, my journey was fueled by my passion for the city and fervor for the South Side.

Excited by the attention and enhancement for the area of town where I reside, I eagerly applied. The South Side, full of rich history and lively bustle; our historic area of town is also home to the illustrious Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Having been raised by public servants, my father a middle school principal and my mother a social worker, I gained experience early as a community servant. Since coming to Tallahassee for college and now a resident of over a decade, I had wondered how could I better insert myself into the culture and community of the South Side. How could I serve more in my new home?

In the work of #iHeartTally, there were many key individuals and pieces of our art puzzle, all bringing the project to fruition. With my training in outreach and legislative fundraising led to forging an essential partnership with FAMU and President Dr. Larry Robinson.

The height of my experience occurred at the culmination of the project, alongside my fellow catalyst, Cosby Hayes. We partnered with Oak Ridge Elementary to create their version of #iHeartTally and art for Tallahassee. As the budding intellectuals and future creative citizens designed art for their stories of why they love living in our Capital City, my awareness was enhanced for the true value of this project – inclusion. Despite age, economics or location, as servants, our active and intentional inclusivity of all Tallahassee citizens is what ensures our community thrives.

#iHeartTally and the letters– TLH – are much more than a photo-op or airport code. Our art installation is a visual reminder of who we are. Talent lives here (TLH) in Tallahassee; our home is reflective of progressive growth and a rich commitment to citizen engagement as well. While the installation is a sign of transition to come in the South Side area, may we remember the richness in the lived experiences of those who currently thrive in the area, and even greater, consider ways to more holistically exchange with them. By finding ways to be living art, we are a voice for those who may currently feel as though they have little.

The vision of the KCCI is to create places or projects that cultivate and retain talent and enhance economic vitality. By buying-in to such foresight, I was able to reach beyond the requirements of the project and gain a deeper experience in our community. Our TLH installation was a way to brainstorm and create ways to better serve and engage with Tallahassee, making the whole of her increasingly better!